Wednesday 2 May 2012

The life of Brian Coleman: he's not the Messiah, he's not a naughty boy, he's a f*cking nuisance, and we need to kick him out

*Updated Thursday evening: see below

Mrs Angry has been musing on the subject of Brian Coleman and his strange fascination for those of us who write about local politics here in Broken Barnet, and the wider London scene.

In his Guardian blog this morning, Dave Hill claims that, although he wants to see him lose his seat, he is really rather fond of our Brian. Mmm. He says:

"I would be sad to see him go. That is partly because bad behaviour in a man so utterly convinced of his own righteousness is weirdly compelling. It is also because Coleman personifies vividly a comedic suburban affrontedness rarely found outside of television sitcoms. The spectacle of someone completely in the grip of his own, inexhaustible indignation provides an unexpected intellectual satisfaction - an ideal type made flesh."

Of course he is not the only journalist to express a shameful longing for the political survival of Brian Coleman. He is in good company. Last week in his Telegraph blog, the delightful Andrew Gilligan also declared the love which dare not - or ought not - speak its name.

"The scalp of Brian Coleman, one of London's most colourful and combative politicians, would please a lot of people on the Left (and one or two inside Team Boris) no end. Like most journalists, however, I like him and would miss him."

Well of course Gilligan is the sort of creature who would like Brian Coleman. Claiming that most journalists like him too is idiotic: yes, Coleman provides a lot of entertainment and stories, but liking, Andrew? Really? I'm not sure even his mum likes him: loves him, no doubt, out of maternal duty, but more than that? (Mrs Angry has been told, incidentally, that Brian's parents are alleged to have previously been Labour voters: rather fun, if true. What a rebel.)

As for Dave Hill, it is all very well for someone who does not have to live in proximity to Coleman's meddling to find him amusing, and feel a sense of loss at the prospect of his fall from grace.

Coleman certainly is amusing: outrageous - a laughing stock. Look at his antics last Friday in the shops of Chipping Barnet, shouting at the shopkeepers who dared to have posters in their windows berating him for his disastrous parking scheme.

Mrs Angry has always maintained that Brian is a man out of his time: a Victorian lost in the twenty first century, a character out of Dickens, or Trollope, or Thackeray. A one dimensional caricature: an aspiration. He does not sit easily in the modern world, is confused and affronted by the new democracy of social media, blogging, twitter - the challenge of alternative opinion, intelligently and impertinently expressed.

And Hill is right, there is something weirdly compelling about his lack of self knowledge, and that eternal rage against a world which must, he believes, be brought to its knees by his authority. He so often projects onto others the faults of his own character, with no sense of the naked exposure of his own psychological hard wiring. The schoolboy in cufflinks, standing in the corner of the playground, looking on at the other boys, sniggering at him and leaving him out of their fun, making him the figure of their fun - that is the key to Brian Coleman.

Stop there, Mrs Angry, before you start to feel sorry for him.

Coleman fails to see the hypocrisy of so many of his actions, or why they should so upset anyone. When he made objections, for example, to the duty of Barnet Council to provide transport for 'these people' - children with special needs, vulnerable adults with disabilities, he did not think - or perhaps did not care - that he expects taxpayers to pay for his own subsidised transport, the taxi fare bills which have run into thousands of pounds, in some cases from the cab left standing, with the meter ticking over, while he indulges himself at some civic function.

Why does he not see, or care about , the contradictions of his own behaviour and attitudes?

Why does he derive so much satisfaction from the exercise of control over others?

Why does he seem to prefer to address conflict with confrontation, rather than conciliation, or compromise?

Why is he, fundamentally, a rather forelorn figure, with few real friends and so many enemies?

the last image of Brian Coleman, AM?

Well, ultimately, that is a personal issue for Brian himself to contemplate. But if he loses his GLA seat tomorrow, perhaps that will be the first step on a journey of self exploration, and one which might take him, eventually, to a more meaningful and useful sort of life. Well: maybe.

Help Brian out then: give him space to find his soul. Take the burden of his GLA post from him. Make an end to the lunches, and the hampers, and the toadying at City Hall. Give him some quality time for himself.

There is only one way to do this. It's actually not as simple as ABC -'Anyone But Coleman' - the only vote you can cast is a vote for Andrew Dismore. Voting for anyone else will only split the result, and return Coleman to power. Mrs Angry sincerely believes that Andrew is the best candidate, and will work hard for the constituents of Barnet and Camden. Do what you like on the other two forms tomorrow, but on the yellow one, vote for Dismore, and rid us all, for once and for all, of the burden of Brian Coleman.

*Update Thursday 5.30pm

Mrs Angry went to vote this morning, waving cheerily up at the Bates Motel windows of Brian Coleman's charity flat, right next door to the polling station, and fighting her way past a poor old Tory teller who seemed to think she was entitled to sit inside the polling station, rather than outside in the chair provided.

No problem, with two of the forms, but Mrs Angry thought rather crossly that a voting form which obliges you to vote for unnamed candidates of any party is hardly democratic, or an informed vote: rather like a blind date, lasting four years, and rather longer than most marriages. What a cynic you are, Mrs Angry. As she left she cast a glance up at Brian's frankly rather grubby windows. Oh look: lots of Back Boris posters ... not many of those about, although last night reports came in telling us that a pair of highly organised flyposters were sticking them up all over Finchley - bus shelters, shops - of course blatantly in breach of electoral regulations.

Was Brian there, this morning, peering through the blinds, hiding behind the Back Boris posters, looking at Mrs Angry with dark thoughts, and muttering insults at passing residents, as if he was at a Barnet Cabinet Resources committee meeting?

Who knows. Certainly no one has spotted him out and about the mean streets of Broken Barnet, inviting citizens to rush to the ballot box to vote him back into his cushy Assembly post, and all that comes with it.

What does come with it, Mrs Angry, do I hear you asking?

Well, expenses, gifts, hospitality, and an endless round of attendance at civic functions. It's a wonderful life, isn't it Brian?

And in return, sometimes the great man likes to show off, and demonstrate his lordly status by throwing the odd luncheon to impress his friends. Not very often, it must be said, because he does not appear to have many friends, and he prefers not to be the man more dined against than dining. Guess who's coming to dinner? Yes: it's Brian Coleman.

Every now and then, though, Brian hosts a special do, usually in relation to his hopefully soon to be ended post as Chair of LFEPA, the London fire authority.

Oh, yes: look what we have here ... see today's Mirror:

"The man appointed by London Mayor Boris Johnson to make huge cuts to the capital’s fire brigade has been blasted for blowing taxpayers’ money on lunches for his Tory chums.

London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority chairman Brian Coleman spent almost £1,000 on a meal, wine and flowers in a restaurant in the same building as the brigade museum he has threatened to close.

Guests included the Local Government Association chief Sir Merrick Cockell, London Assembly Member Richard Tracey and David Cartwright, of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority.

Last year, Mr Coleman, who is on nearly £115,000 a year, spent £2,000 of taxpayers’ cash on a retirement meal for a colleague.

The Fire Brigades Union London said: “It’s dispiriting when firefighters see their bosses frittering away large sums of money on slap-up lunches for their political chums.”

Mr Coleman would not comment about the March 1 lunch but, when asked at a recent meeting how much the meal had cost, claimed that he had “not seen the bill."

According to 'Snipe' today -see here :

"The Tory Chairman of the London Fire Authority Brian Coleman, splashed almost £1000 this March on a three course meal, wine and flowers for a group of his fellow London Tories.

Guests included the Tory head of the Local Government Association Sir Merrick Cockell, Tory London Assembly Member Richard Tracey, Brian Coleman himself and another Mayoral appointee.

Waiters served the politicians crab and avocado salad with lemon mayonnaise, chicken served with date and apple stuffing, lemon tart with raspberry coulis and bottles of Neblina Sauvignon Blanc."

Sounds very nice, Brian. (Although it should be said that Mrs Angry's own lemon tart and raspberry coulis is second to none.)

Mrs Angry was curious about Brian's guest list, and was moved to check out his latest gifts and hospitality entries on the GLA website. Oh, dear: how very curious - the register was inaccessible, although oddly, only the gifts & hospitality, and not the interests.

This has happened before, shortly after Boris Johnson insulted the entire Irish community in the greater London area with his 'Sinn Fein' slurs in relation to the St Patrick's Day Ball. Mrs Angry had gone to check what sort of balls our Mayor does attend, but lo and behold, the gifts & hospitality entries for him were inaccessible. Unfortunately for Boris, though, Mrs Angry had already noted these elsewhere.

This morning, however, all the members's entries were unobtainable. Mrs Angry made a call to City Hall, where she pointed out to a nice officer that this obstruction of transparency, on the day of the election, was rather ill timed. Or well timed, depending on your point of view. She agreed that it was indeed a 'horrible coincidence'. By the time Mrs Angry returned home this afternoon, happily, access to the register had been restored, and you may like to take a look for yourself, and see what our Mayor, Brian Coleman and some of the other Tory representatives at the GLA get up to, at our expense, or the expense of other parties.

Then, if you have not already done so, please: rush along to your polling station, why don't you, and knock this self indulgence on the head, and vote for a new Mayor, and a new GLA member?


Don't Call Me Dave said...

You ask: “Why does he derive so much satisfaction from the exercise of control over others?”

This is the crux of the matter. Many years ago Brian Coleman told me that the reason he did not want to stand for Parliament was because he wanted real power. He did not want to be a small fish in a big pond. At council level he has the power to affect people’s lives. This is what he craves. By his own admission, he is not qualified to hold a real job. He does not have the ability to rise up the corporate ladder. Politics allows him to feel superior to other people. I doubt very much whether he has even the slightest interest in the minutiae of policy. He cares not whether people approve or disapprove of his policies. It is simply the ability to enforce those policies which is his raison d'ĂȘtre.

baarnett said...

And if you have any doubt, remember Bwain has received maybe a million pounds of public money in "allowances" over the last decade of so.

For doing, well, not very much, most people would say.

baarnett said...

DCMD: Barnet has one quite reasonable, medium-sized fish, and two really small fish in that bigger pond.

I haven't seen the recent discussion of the 2010 Commons intake in the press, or the slate for the 1922 Committee, mention either of our two little tiddlers.

Mrs Angry said...

I think you are right, DCMD. Except that even if he had tried to enter parliament, his own inability to form consensual relationships with others would have prevented him from being supported in his ambitions: he does not have the emotional intelligence to know when to keep his mouth shut, even when it is in his best interest. And one hears he is seen as a fool by the Tory party at Westminster. The Peter principle has been proved, yet again: he will never rise any higher than he has been, thank God.

Baarnett: yes, value for money? I think not.

Anonymous said...

"The schoolboy in cufflinks, standing in the corner of the playground, looking on at the other boys, sniggering at him and leaving him out of their fun, making him the figure of their fun"....guilty, I am ashamed to admit: I was in the third year ( as it used to be called ) he was in the 6th form and wearing a blue rosette, even then !

Ron said...

yeaa. i would be amused as well if i wasn't a barnet resident..
this Quilp make you laugh as long as you don't have to leave with him.

Mrs Angry said...

Goodness me, Anonymous: tell us more. Was he the last one standing when picking teams in PE? No, hang on, that was me.

Anonymous said...

Brian Coleman needs to be correctly labelled as a bully. I have seen him bully fellow Tory COuncillors, along with his arrogance at various meetings, when his ears only seem to prick up when someone mentions firemen!! A bully needs to be confronted and the people of Camden and Barnet have done it - at last.